Portland, Oregon – Oregon Partnership, a non-profit organization dedicated to combating alcohol and drug abuse, has called for Old Navy stores to discontinue the sale of t-shirts with binge drinking messages such as “Beer Pressure – Worth Giving In To!” and “Sloshball Champions – Staggerin Falls, Hi.”
In a letter to Glenn Murphy, CEO of Gap, Inc, Old Navy's parent company headquartered in San Francisco, Oregon Partnership said the sale of such items to a young customer base is repugnant and goes against the company's pledge of social responsibility.
“Oregon Partnership and other anti-drug coalitions around the country will not let go of this.” said Pete Schulberg, OP Communications Director. “Other retail chains have stopped the sale of these t-shirts because they know that promoting binge drinking to young people is something they DON'T want to be a part of.”
OP has examples of the shirts for photo opportunities.
In a written reply to OP's request, Chris Wingenfield of Gap Customer Relations said “at Old Navy, we strive to offer merchandise that appeal to a wide range of interests….it is never our intention to offend our customers and we apologize for any concerns related to our product.”
But Oregon Partnership President/CEO Judy Cushing termed Gap's response “wholly unsatisfying.”
“Oregon Partnership and other anti-drug coalitions are making inroads in informing parents, educators, and the business community about how alcohol use among adolescents is even more dangerous to their developing brains than previously believed,” said Cushing. “But for the culture to be changed, retailers such as Gap and Old Navy need to play their part.”
The price of the t-shirts was lowered to $5.00 on the weekend before the start of most public schools in the state.
“It is obvious to us that Old Navy is marketing the shirts to the back-to-school crowd, which is irresponsible and hypocritical,” said Schulberg. “These are shirts that public schools would not allow kids to wear.
During last year's holiday season, the store prominently displayed t-shirts with a Christmas tree and the words “Let's Get Lit.” Another has an elf drinking from a keg.
Several years ago, after Oregon Partnership criticized Macy's and Bloomingdales for selling similar t-shirts, the retailers decided to take the items off their shelves. Other national chains have discontinued the sale of drinking games and similar products.